Could the Weston hospital re-open?

The province will likely reopen the Jane and Finch branch of the Humber River Regional Hospital, according to to Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Health. It may be used to ease a capacity crunch in pre-longterm care. Perhaps the Church Street site could be also be reopened.

Both the Jane and Finch and Church Street sites were closed in 2015. The HRRHs’ services were consolidated at the new Wilson and Keele site.

The Church site, which  Hoskins did not mention in his speech at Queen’s Park, remains unsold as lawyers work through a thorny issue: the Trimbee family gave away a chunk of land the building sits on with a condition: its ownership would revert to the Town of Weston if it were no longer used as a hospital.

Re-opening the Church site may be a long shot, but the province could use as many as 3000 beds for people too ill or too frail to go home but who are not suited to the acute care provided at a hospital. The Finch site has only 150. In a spirited exchange at Queen’s Park, Hoskins said

since day one of that new hospital opening, we have been looking at this as a positive opportunity to free up capacity in a number of hospitals, not just Humber River. There are a number of hospitals in Toronto and the GTA that are contributing to this plan.

 

The secret future of the hospital site

The Toronto Star has a detailed article on the legal conflict over the Church Street hospital site.

Frances Nunziata, despite her support of other high-rise developments in Weston, seems to have sensed changing public opinion.

Some residents are concerned that the hospital will sell “to the highest bidder” [Nunziata says] who will build townhouses or condo towers — increasing density and traffic in the area.

“The community wants a long-term care (facility), seniors’ residence, a child-care facility, they don’t want the hospital to sell it to a developer to build residential,” she said.

The deed “really was sort of a trump card for us, for the city and the community, because we want institutional uses on the land. It’s really the use of the land the community wants to leverage.”

The secret legal settlement offer will be considered—also in secret—at the next City Council meeting, on November 3. The settlement will only be made public if it is approved by council and only with the permission of the City Solicitor.

HRRH The City may own part of the land – a perspective

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The Church Street site of Humber River Regional Hospital is closing in October and as Adam has pointed out in several articles, the land will be up for grabs. Many residents of Weston breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that benefactors who donated land for a hospital in Weston had made a condition of their donation that the land must always be used as a hospital. The donation was made to the town of Weston, whose successor is the City of Toronto. It’s not the whole site as the hospital has grown since 1948 but 1.2 acres (out of 11.5) is enough of a chunk to make development more challenging.

The Humber River Regional Hospital Site. From Google.ca
The Humber River Regional Hospital site.
From Google.ca

Much speculation has occurred over what precisely should happen to the land. Recognizing that we live in a big city where real estate is expensive and development almost inevitable, what will happen to the site? Will there be open space? What kind of housing will be built? Will housing match that in the neighbourhood or will there be townhouse and high-rise development? Will the covenant be honoured and what form will that take?

The tired looking entrance to the Church Street site.
The entrance to the Church Street site.

Unfortunately, ownership of land by the City did not protect the Farmers Market site from being sold off to a developer. The same fate awaits this parcel of land unless an eagle eye is kept on the process. The public needs to be informed and have input into every step and decision made along the way. No doubt there will be talk of wonderful collaborations with a developer but these will come with a cost as we found out recently with the Farmers Market site.

Donation thwarts quick sale of HRRH Church site

It was standing-room only at a meeting last night about the future of the Humber River Hospital Church Street site, according to reports.

The HRRH is looking to sell the building as it consolidates its operations at its new campus near Keele and Wilson.

Hospital administrators have not yet sold the site, and do not yet know what will happen there, but members of the audience were clear that they did not want it to become a residential building. Instead, they suggested functions more in line with its current use, such as a nursing home, a college, doctors’ offices, or a daycare.

No decisions will be made any time soon though: part of the land on which the hospital sits was donated by a Weston family, the Trimbees, in the late 1940s. The Trimbees made it a condition that the site must remain a hospital, and that ownership would revert to “the Town of Weston” in the event that the land was no longer needed.

This is certain to throw a wrench into the sale of the site and may allow residents to have a greater say about what becomes of the hospital. There are conditions the city must meet when selling property, and, though I’m not a lawyer, they seem to force at least some more consultation.

The extra work, consultation, and the upcoming municipal election mean that little will happen until 2015.

 

 

HRRH no longer the abbatoir it once was

Is it good news when things aren’t as bad as they once were? If so, then we have some good news!

In 2007, Humber River Regional Hospital was one of the most dangerous hospitals in the country. It had the second worst mortality rate in Canada; the hospital even refused to release their numbers in 2007, the year it performed the worst. It was eventually forced to, and the results were quite shocking: 36% more people were dying there than were expected to. (Interesting trivia: George Smitherman, the Minister of Health at the time, and the person who forced them to release their data, was born at the HRRH Church Street site).

Since then, however, things have got better—much better. Their mortality rate has continued to improve every year, and this year, the HRRH is quite safe. Its mortality rate is 7% below average.¹

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¹ My father is an epidemiologist. He would have a heart attack (hopefully at Mississauga’s Credit Valley Hospital, the best) if he saw me using stats like this. It’s complicated. It’s close enough, though.

An MRI Machine For HRRH Church Street Site

Humber River Regional Hospital‘s Church Street site will be getting a new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine later this year. The machine will operate for 40 hours a week and presumably will operate for longer hours if the need increases. The existing machine operates 24/7 and performs 7900 scans annually at the Finch site while the new machine will perform about 3100 and save Weston residents from travelling to the Finch site. It is assumed that the machine will move to the new 1.6 million square foot site at Keele and the 401 in 2015.

This being a provincial election year, no doubt there will be similar announcements coming from other provincial ministries. The press release for this announcement helpfully contains boilerplate quotes from prominent area Liberal MPPs, the Minister of Health and health care executives.